EU leaders meeting overnight in Brussels have agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by the year 2030, compared with 1990 levels.

However, they delayed taking a decision on just how much each member state will be obliged to reduce their emissions to achieve that goal, until after a major UN climate change conference next year.

The Government asserts it has made considerable progress in ensuring a special provision has been made for agriculture and forestry in the final text.

On his way into the summit yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny described the previous greenhouse gas emissions deal as "truly catastrophic" for Ireland.

He said that "completely unreachable targets" should not be set this time.

The major problem for Ireland is the size of its cattle herd, which emits huge amounts of methane, a significant greenhouse gas.

In the final text agreed by EU leaders overnight, it states that the multiple objectives of the agriculture and land use should be acknowledged, as well as the need to ensure coherence between the EU's food security and climate objectives.

According to Minister of State for European Affairs Dara Murphy, this amounts to considerable progress, as it will help Ireland get a better emissions reduction target after the UN climate change summit in Paris.

He said it was also significant that the EU leaders' decision on national targets will be made by consensus.

EU leaders also agreed to boost the use of renewable energy to 27% in the total energy mix and increase energy efficiency to at least 27%.

However, Oxfam said the deal fell far too short of what the EU needs to do, while Greenpeace argued the agreed targets were too low.